My philosophy has always been – if you are going to do something – do it properly or don’t do it at all. For me doing something properly means, doing it with passion! To be successful at anything I believe you need to be passionate about what you do, be willing to work hard. Success doesn’t just happen without hard work, and never give up on your goals and your dreams. You can achieve anything with this mind set. That doesn’t mean you need to be arrogant, on the contrary, quietly confident and treating everyone you work with and everyone you encounter, with respect is what I believe is required. It is essential to build your own credibility and the foundation for your leadership skills.
I was always very passionate about accounting and business from a very young age. My mother let me help her run her interior design business from the age of 15. I was her bookkeeper at that age and helped her complete grant applications as her business was a small owner managed business in the growth phase. This recognition and encouragement from my mother at such a young age really nurtured my passion for business and accounting. I never considered anything else as a career. I experienced first-hand how important finance was to a business and how exciting it was to be able to make a difference to the business through accounting correctly for the cost of production, managing budgets and managing cash flows and how this all linked to the overall strategy for the business.
To this day I love understanding what the clients business involves before looking at the financial aspects of the business, which is why I love the construction industry which I lead for the Middle East. Walking through the client sites and understanding how the construction process works from design all the way through the build and listening to all the technical challenges encountered in building some of the world’s iconic buildings right here in the UAE and then siting back to consider and debate the accounting impact of what is being built. We also debate how to account for some of the challenges experienced day to day in construction as well as all the more recent challenges posed by the financial crisis which saw projects put on hold, cancelled, assets exchanged as part settlement of construction debts, settlement plans being agreed, excess plant and equipment and labour as a result of the slowdown in the industry… each presenting a real and painful business challenge and also a very substantial accounting challenge. This is what makes accounting so exciting as well. Accounting is based on a set of principles that need to be understood and debated with clients and require a significant amount of understanding of the industry, the economy and the particular client circumstances in order to be able to conclude on and agree with the client on particular judgements that they apply to all these situations they encounter.
Accounting is an immensely rewarding career that has helped me grow as an individual by being in a profession that gives people with the right attitude and passion so many opportunities which allow you to develop a vast number of skills and qualities to develop into one of the leaders in a Firm like Deloitte. At the Age of 17 I was awarded the Theo Smith Cup for accounting from my High School, and then joined Deloitte immediately out of school and studied while I worked. This in itself was a tremendous opportunity and learning experience which resulted in me being promoted to an audit manager at the age of 23, the youngest manager ever in Deloitte South Africa at the time. I became an audit partner in a UK Mid tier Firm at the age of 31, and the re-joined Deloitte in the Middle East in 2006, to become one of the first female partners in the Middle East.
My current roles include being a full time UAE Audit Partner, Head of Construction Industry for the Middle East, Deputy Practice Review Director for the Middle East, IFRS Technical Leader for the Middle East and UAE HR Partner. All achieved through hard work, commitment, passion and great inspiration and guidance from my mentors.
To end with a quote I really think sums up my philosophy:
“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” Oprah Winfrey
By Cynthia Corby, partner, Audit, Deloitte Middle East